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Fresh ground soil.
Hand digging in fresh soil.

Soils are fundamental to Marlborough's economic, environmental and social wellbeing. We use soils to grow our fruit, vegetables, crops and timber. Soils are used to breed and fatten a range of animals. We build our homes, factories, road and railways on soils. Soils are vital for a variety of ecosystem services eg; water storage and filtering wastes. It is therefore clear that soils are important and we need to judiciously manage their use if we want to be able to use them as we move into the future.

See a map of soil types in Marlborough

What is soil?

Soil is the top layer of material on the surface of the earth that plants grow in. Soil can be made up of a combination of a range different elements including minerals, rock fragments, dead and decaying organic matter and living organisms.

Why is soil important?

Soils are fundamental to a range of ecosystem functions. Our soils are vital for the storage of our water, nutrients, and agri-chemicals; they mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, filter and break down a range of harmful substances, and act as a buffer between the atmosphere and aquatic environments. Soils are also at the heart of our economy, underpinning our agriculture, viticulture, and forestry industries and complementing our clean green tourism image. Not least, soils are the living mantle of our earth, the surface on which we live, grow our food and build our houses.

Different types of soil

Like the rest of New Zealand, Marlborough has a diverse range of soils. In fact there are over 87 different soil types in Marlborough representing eight of the 15 soil orders used in New Zealand – the highest and most generalised level of soil classification.

The large number of soil types within Marlborough reflects the variation of parent materials, age of soil development, the climate (ie; mean annual rainfall and presences and absence of drought) and topography.

These range of soils have different properties or characteristics. These characteristics mean that some soils will be more suitable for certain land uses than others. For example, some areas have soils and a climate particularly suited to growing pasture while others are more suited to growing fruit trees.

How do our actions affect soils?

Human activity can alter the character and quality of our soils. Pollution from industry can cause long-term soil contamination. Farming can maintain and improve soil quality but some intensive farming practices can have negative effects such as increased soil erosion or soil compaction.

  • Soil Compaction/Pugging

    Soil structural degradation as a result of soil compaction/pugging is increasingly being recognised as an important issue at some grazing sites in New Zealand.

  • Soil Erosion

    To gain a better understanding of the amount and type of soil erosion across the Marlborough Region, in 2009 a survey was undertaken to assess Soil State using region-wide aerial photography.

  • Soil Maps

    A soil report describes the typical average properties of the specified soil. It is a summary of information obtained from profiles generated during soil surveys.

  • Soil Quality Monitoring

    Measuring soil quality provides an early warning of the potential effects different primary land use activities may be having on long-term soil quality.

  • Soil Reports

    Reports regarding land and soil in the Marlborough region.

  • Soils of the Kaituna/Havelock and Linkwater Districts

    The aim of this project was therefore to describe, sample and analyse soils from representative sites in the Kaituna/Havelock and Linkwater districts.

  • Soils of the Rai and Te Hoiere/Pelorus Catchment

    The aim of this study was to describe and sample soils from representative sites in the Rai/Pelorus catchment and undertake a range of analysis for both topsoil and subsoils.

  • Soils of the Wairau Plain

    Soils on the Wairau Plains have developed from a range of parent materials on the floodplains, dune sands, beach gravels and on coastal margins and river terraces.

  • Soils Of The Wither And Redwood Hills

    The aim of this study was to map the distribution of soils in the hills southeast of Blenheim that have the potential for erosion, and determine what risks they pose to infrastructure and buildings.

  • Trace Element Concentrations in Soils

    ​One form of potential soil degradation in New Zealand is diffuse soil contamination from the accumulation of inorganic chemicals such as trace elements.

  • What is Good Soil Quality?

    Comparing key soil quality characteristics against threshold values tells us whether soil quality is satisfactory for different land use activities within our region.

  • Winery Wastewater Applied To Soils

    Application of winery wastewater has the potential for soils to accumulate sodium and potassium to concentrations which may adversely alter soil properties.